Governor Barasa in new plan to complete Sh6 billion stalled waste plant

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa at a past event in Shinyalu sub-county on September 3, 2023. [File, Standard]

A winding dusty road meanders through homes to an abandoned 20-acre parcel of land earmarked for the Sh6 billion waste-to-energy plant project at Mung'ang'a village in Mumias East, Kakamega County.

The project site has been overgrown by grass and shrubs after the contractor pulled out over two years ago.

Herders and idlers welcome one to the site that was one of former Governor Wycliffe Oparanya's flagship projects.

According to residents, the multi-billion project was the only hope they had because the majority of them were rendered jobless following the collapse of Mumias Sugar Company.

But all is not lost after Governor Fernandes Barasa announced that he was scouting for a strategic investor to embark on the project.

The announcement comes as a relief to the residents who are excited about the prospects of having the plant up and running.

It is projected that the factory would incinerate approximately 800 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day and create more than 1,000 jobs.

The abandoned site hosted the launch of the Kakamega Climate Change Action Plan one week ago. It is here that Governor Barasa disclosed that the investor could tour the site before the end of January next year.

"We shall fence the 20-acre parcel in preparation for the construction of the plant, I want to announce to you that I will bring a real investor early next year so that we can have the project actualized," said Barasa.

"We have already gone through many proposals and what remains is to bring investors and embark on the project in order to empower our people through job creation," said the county boss.

The governor added that he will not initiate any new projects until he finishes all mega and flagship projects started by his predecessor.

Samwel Adong'o, a resident welcomed the governor's announcement saying a vandalized plaque at the abandoned site now makes sense.

"The stalled project dimmed our hopes but we thank the governor for the new plan to revive the plant, as locals, we are now able to see light at the end of the tunnel," said Adong'o.

Locals are optimistic a transformer taken away from the site by Kenya Power will be reinstalled again for the benefit of households that had already been connected to a power line in the area.

Elias Matswa, a resident has urged politicians and leaders not to use projects to woo voters at the expense of economic development and the welfare of people.

He said locals were happy that they would earn money by delivering solid waste to the factory.

"I urge the governor to ensure the project is completed as planned so that our people, especially youths can be absorbed," said Matswa.

"We do not want this initiative to become a white elephant project or turn into a political tool to lure voters," he said.

Management of solid waste remains a major public health and environmental concern in the county but according to the plan, energy generated by the waste plant could revolutionize the county's approach in dealing with solid waste menace for the benefit of over two million residents.

VR Holding Limited Company, a Swedish firm, was expected to oversee the construction works of the factory in three phases.

The first phase comprised the factory section where combusting of waste to energy and the production of clean energy was to take place. The second section would host a primary school for the community and the third section was to have a fully-fledged Level Four Hospital.

According to the plan, the establishment of the plant would see the combustion of solid waste to produce electricity and clean energy.